Somerset retirement village expansion plans refused again

Beaufort Park care home on Rectory Road in Burnham-on-Sea
Beaufort Park care home on Rectory Road in Burnham-on-Sea -Credit:Somerset Council

Plans to expand a retirement village in a Somerset coastal town have been refused for a second time by local councillors. Beaufort Park Ltd. (which is part of Agincare) was refused permission in July 2023 to build 11 extra care apartments within the grounds of its existing Beaufort Park care home on Rectory Road in Burnham-on-Sea.

The company put forward new plans for the site (which was formerly a girl's school) in November 2023, arguing that the town needed to provide more accommodation for people who were elderly yet independent. But Somerset Council's planning committee north (which handles major applications in the former Sedgemoor area) turned the plans down for a second time on Tuesday (May 14),

The new L-shaped development would be located along the southern and eastern boundaries of the site, with a number of the existing ancillary buildings being demolished or remodelled. The building would vary in height between one and two storeys, with the higher elements being predominantly on the eastern boundary.

READ MORE: Care home to replace planned school within major Taunton housing estate

READ MORE: New homes near M5 services approved despite access and flooding fears

The plans also include additional car parking south of the existing buildings within the site and the creation of a new 'sunken garden' for residents. The extra care apartments will be marketed towards elderly residents who wish to retain their independence while accessing services within the wider complex - similar to the apartments being offered at Quantock House in Taunton town centre.

Jennifer Turco, who lives on Rectory Road, spoke against the development when the plans came before the planning committee north in Bridgwater on Tuesday afternoon (May 14). She said: "This second application is significantly worse than the first.

"Its much bigger footprint is too close to our private outside evening space for friends and family, which we've enjoyed for 39 years. Much increased noise from additional vehicles parking on the west boundary and 11 near-neighbours will destroy the peace and quiet connected with Rectory Road's sought-after character."

Graham King, who lives on Gardenhurst to the north of the site, concurred: "It is out of keeping, overshadowing, visual domination, which will cause loss of privacy and disturbance. The highways issue has been glossed over by insisting that the care home's existing parking site is largely disused - yet we see it busy every working day.

"The parking proposals are totally inadequate." Councillor Gill Slocombe (Bridgwater West) said she would feel uncomfortable living so close to such a large development.

Proposed site of 11 extra care apartments at Beaufort House on Rectory Road in Burnham-on-Sea
Proposed site of 11 extra care apartments at Beaufort House on Rectory Road in Burnham-on-Sea -Credit:Google Maps

She said: "When I look at any planning application, I always think to myself: 'Would I like this if I lived here? How would I feel?'.

"I have to say the close proximity of this big building to me does seem quite overbearing - it seems like quite an enormous building to go into this area." Councillor Tony Grimes (whose Brent division borders the site) said: "I know this site very well - I live in Burnham-on-Sea, so I am very well acquainted with it.

"I can't agree with the officer on this - I still think it's exactly the same when it was refused the first time. It's huge - the shadowing will result in loss of light, and it's out of character with the surrounding buildings. It's just in the wrong place."

Councillor Mike Murphy (Liberal Democrat, Burnham-on-Sea North)
Councillor Mike Murphy (Liberal Democrat, Burnham-on-Sea North) -Credit:Somerset Council

Councillor Mike Murphy (whose Burnham-on-Sea North division includes the site) added: "You have created here a much bigger footprint, pushing out any car parking that was there and developing up to 18 feet above the ground. This is not acceptable - it's definitely overbearing, and it's unneighbourly."

After around an hour's debate, the committee voted unanimously to refuse permission.